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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Do you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are headed up the first 300’ hill of a roller coaster? NO? Well, maybe then a 212’ hill? It is exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time, right? Then when you get to the top of that hill, it seems you “hang” there for an eternity until ZIP! You start down the other side at a break neck speed. EXHILERATING!!! And also can leave you holding your breath! (Although I’m usually riding down that hill with my hands in the air and screaming for joy!)

THIS is how I felt yesterday on our way home…except for the screaming for joy and hands in the air part.

We decided since it was early afternoon that we would come THROUGH Atlanta instead of taking the by-pass. It was nice to not be sandwiched between semi’s or have to worry about people merging and not being able to get over far enough to let them in quickly. But for both of us, it was still a bit nerve wracking.

But we made it back safe and sound. And even though the temps had been in the low 20’s the night before, everything was OK within and outside of our RV. We had been worried.

Our visit to the refuge was wonderful! Carolyn gave us a tour of the refuge and explained a LOT to us. This refuge is composed of different “segments” but all of them consist of beautiful woods. I know it has to be wonderful in the spring when the dogwoods blossom and in the fall when the colors are changing.

There would be so many exciting things for us to do and help with there. For one thing, most of the refuge use to be old settlements with family graveyards. They have found about 50 of the graveyards but figure there has to be many, many more so one of our jobs would be going out in the woods (with a GPS) and trying to find old homesteads and/or the family grave yard. The GPS isn’t to prevent us from getting lost but to enable us to accurately mark where these dwellings or graves are. Dan is very good about finding his way around a woods but can get lost in a large parking lot.

Another thing we would be privy to (don’t know if we would actually be helping) is when they do the prescribed burns in January. She showed us where the helicopter pad is and explained how they use a “flame thrower” from the chopper to start these fires. Since they are looking for a photographer, maybe we could hitch a ride! One of the things we WOULD be helping with before the burn is to go to the area(s) that will be burned and rake the pine needles from around the pine trees. This refuge is home to the endangered red cockaded woodpecker.

There is a lot of interesting info about these birds, but in regards to the prescribed burn, there is something I never would have thought about.

These birds purposely peck at the cavity in the tree that they call home. They do this in the morning and again at night. The reason is so the sap will continue to run out of the tree. This bird’s 2nd worst night mare is a snake (I can’t remember which one) because it will slither way up the tree and rob the nest. If a slithering snake runs into the sticky sap, it will immediately drop to the ground. The bird’s 1st worst night mare is flying squirrels. They like the woodpecker’s home as well as eating the babies or eggs.

Anyway, the pine sap is highly flammable! I didn’t know that! So you can see why it is important to “clear the way” around these pine trees.

There is a lot of info about these birds and how they live as families, how many acres they claim FOR their family. Just a quick bit if info, as soon as the female babies are able to fend for themselves, they are forced to leave the family. But the males find homes pretty much within sight of where the parents live.

In October, the refuge holds a special deer hunt for handicap hunters. It is quite an event with locals feeding the hunters 3 meals a day at the campground. If a handicap hunter can’t go by him or herself, there are always other hunters around to help. If a hunter needs help setting up their campsite, someone will help. If they need help with ANYTHING, there is someone to help! Dan and I would like to be there to participate in that, but we think it is the 2nd weekend of October so we wouldn’t be able to get there that soon.

There is plenty of wildlife, a large variety of ducks, different types of hawks, owls and large flocks of turkeys. The refuge is home to over 200 variety of birds.

AND IT HAS UNTREATED, FRESH OUT OF THE WELL, WELL WATER!!! We wouldn’t have to buy 5 gallons of water every 4 days for drinking! The downside that we’ve seen so far is there is no AT&T phone signal in that area, not till you get about 5 miles down the road.

So, I’m sending out our resume and references this weekend and hope that we will be able to work there next fall/winter/spring!



  1. I love what you're doing ~ and I thank you for sharing it with us less traveled. Interesting about the woodpecker and the snakes getting into the sap like that then falling. Just when I thought I knew it all. ha!

  2. Hey Cathy, I learned A LOT from this post! I've heard woodpeckers but never knew exactly why they did all that pecking! Interesting stuff.

    I hope you get to see the dogwood trees in bloom. That would be a gorgeous sight.

    You're brave to drive the Atlanta freeways in your big motor home. I'm kinda scared to do it in a car!

    Safe travels! xo jj

  3. Mel, Thanks! I hope people enjoy it. I wish my mother had a computer (or had an interest in having one) so she could keep up with us and see the photos. At least our kids and other family memebers can!

    Joanna, Actually we didn't drive through with our 5th wheel, just our pickup. No vehicles over 6 wheels are allowed through downtown Atlanta (I don't know what they do about delivery trucks!!). Even if they DID allow larger vehicles thru there, I don't think we'd be going! Just to clarify something; most woodpeckers peck at trees to get insects out. These particular type are trying to keep the sap running so not all "peckers' have the same agenda!


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